RALEIGH — If it was an emotional day for the Winnipeg Jets, it proved to be a frustrating one for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Jets, scoring three times in the third period, outlasted the Canes 4-3 Thursday at PNC Arena in a Southeast Division game that seemingly had the momentum shifting every few shifts.
Blake Wheeler scored the winner for the Jets with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left in regulation. It was Wheeler's second goal of the game, capping a torrid minute of action that had the crowd of 18,282 roaring.
In a span of 63 seconds, Andrew Ladd scored to push the Jets ahead 3-2, Jiri Tlusty tied it 3-3 for the Hurricanes with his second of the game and then Wheeler struck. Boom, boom, boom. It was just that fast and furious in the third after two grinding periods of hockey.
Canes goalie Cam Ward had a tough night in net -- that after a slightly nightmarish start Monday in a 3-0 loss in Montreal. Ladd's goal, in the Jets captain's 500th career NHL game, came when Ward first muffed the puck trying to glove it, then swiped at it and missed with his stick.
Wheeler's first goal came on a long shot from the right wing that nicked the stick of Canes defenseman Jay Harrison. On his second, Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo slipped.
Evander Kane scored early in the third for the Jets, his shot from the right wing appearing to glance off Corvo.
"We had an opportunity to win, we felt, and we played well enough to win," Muller said. "When you play a divisional game you want to pick up points somehow and we didn't do that. It's unfortunate."
So was a freak injury suffered by the Jets (7-8-1) earlier in the day. Late in Winnipeg's morning skate at PNC Arena, rookie defenseman Zach Redmond was cut by the skate of a teammate.
Redmond, 24, suffered a laceration of a femoral artery. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital and underwent three hours of surgery.
"It was a tough day for the players," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "The guys couldn't stop thinking about it and it certainly had a lot of effect on the guys' play."
The Canes faced a different, more routine form of adversity. Winger Jeff Skinner missed his second game with concussion issues. Defensemen Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen and Jamie McBain all are out with injuries along with center Tim Brent, resulting in a makeshift lineup.
"It's definitely tough. We have a few big guys out of the lineup," Tlusty said. "But if want to be a strong team we have to win games without them."
The Hurricanes on Thursday recalled defenseman Ryan Murphy, their first-round draft pick in 2011, from the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. Murphy, in his NHL debut, played almost 24 minutes and earned praise from Muller.
Jordan Staal scored his third goal of the season for the Canes, tying the score 2-2. Tlusty's first goal, late in the opening period, came off a spectacular behind-the-back pass from Alexander Semin, the puck zipping through the legs of Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian.
"He made a great move," Tlusty said. "It's easy for me to put it in."
The Canes, limited to 19 shots in the shutout loss to the Canadiens, had 30 against the Jets and goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
On Tlusty's second goal, he came off the bench on a line change, jumped into the play and rifled a shot from the slot.
"I think we played a decent game," Tlusty said. "We just have to stick with the plan. They capitalized on a couple of lucky breaks and it cost us the game."
It's possible Pitkanen, out the past three games, could be available Saturday for Tampa Bay. Muller also has to evaluate the goaltending situation and decide whether to stick with Ward against the Lightning or turn to backup Dan Ellis.
"I think (Ward) was hoping to come back with a big game (after) the last game in Montreal," Muller said. "We win as a team and lose as a team and we just didn't close the door at the as a group. At the end of the day it's just no excuses. Everyone has a job to do and we have to get it done."